How border closure cost Nigeria international maritime council seat ― Dakuku
• We will be back ― Saraki
More facts have emerged on why Nigeria lost by a single vote to Kenya in the just concluded International Maritime Organization (IMO) elections held in London, the United Kingdom over the weekend.
According to the Director-General of Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency(NIMASA), Dr Dakuku Peterside, while speaking to an online medium Shipping World exclusively, the closure of Nigeria’s land border, coupled with an unprecedented international conspiracy is the reason behind Nigeria’s loss to Kenya in the crucial IMO elections.
According to the NIMASA DG, ” our African brothers mobilized against us for reasons best known to them. Benin Republic told us bluntly, ‘If you want our vote, go and reopen your land borders.
“The last time, we lost by 12 votes. This time around, we lost by a margin of one vote. These issues have nothing to do with NIMASA, rather it was international politics. Our neighbours all voted against us for closing the land borders while Switzerland voted against us because the Nigerian Navy seized their vessel for more than two years.”
In a related development, the Minister of State for Transportation, Dr Gbemisola Saraki, who led the country’s delegation to the IMO Council elections at the weekend said the campaign for the 2021 bid had already begun. Saraki said it was a matter of paramount national interest that “Nigeria gets a seat on the maritime table.
She said the country would, as a first task, appraise the factors behind its narrow loss.
“We are going to go back to the countries that voted to ask them what they did not think we have done well or why they did not vote for us,” Saraki stated.
But she insisted Nigeria had done remarkably well in reforming its maritime sector to meet the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). She pointed to the milestones in maritime safety and security, gender equality, and environmental responsibility.
Saraki was delighted by the determined effort of the Nigerian delegation to campaign for the Category C seat.
Nigeria had come within a whisker of returning to Category C of the IMO at the weekend in London after losing the IMO Council election by just one vote. Though, the country missed its bid for membership of the Governing Council, IMO’s highest decision making organ, Nigeria’s performance was a remarkable improvement from 2017, when it lost by 12 votes. Nigeria polled 110 votes to come 21st at the weekend, one short of the 111 polled by Kenya, which came 20th, the cut-off point for Category C membership of the Council.
The Nigerian delegation also included the Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Hadiza Bala Usman; Chairman Senate Committee on Maritime transport , Senator Danjuma Goje, Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Maritime Safety, Education and Administration, Lynda Ikpeazu; Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Transportation, Sabiu Zakari; Rector of the Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN), Oron, Duja Effedua and Barr. Hassan Bello, Executive Secretary Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC).